The leaves of bearberry, or uva ursi as it is often called, have played an important role in kidney and urinary health around the globe for centuries. It remained a common approach to UTIs and kidney stones until the recent advent of antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotic therapy, however, has resulted in numerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria issues. Fortunately, plant-based approaches continue to prove effective against harmful organisms. Here’s 6 facts you should know about how uva ursi may support kidney and urinary tract health.
1. Soothes Urinary and Bladder Tissue
Mineral deposits, germs, and toxins inflame and irritate the mucous membranes of the urinary tract and bladder. Arbutin, an active compound in uva ursi, neutralizes unwanted organisms and acts as a powerful agent for the soothing of mucous membranes and the reduction of tissue inflammation.  With increased concern over the effectiveness of antibiotics, researchers have determined uva ursi is a viable option for fighting infection, preventing UTIs and supporting bladder, urinary tract, and kidney health. 
2. Promotes Wound Healing
Irritated and inflamed mucous membranes can suffer tiny cuts from crystallized minerals and toxins. Allantoin, another compound in uva ursi, encourages wound healing in affected tissues. The healthier the tissue, the easier for urine to pass and carry away wastes and other buildup.
3. Lowers Acidity
Highly-acidic urine encourages stone formation in the kidney and bladder. Tannins in the leaves of uva ursi lowers the acidity of urine, aiding in the prevention of the crystallization that leads to stones.
4. Cleanses Kidneys
Remember arbutin? This natural compound found in uva ursi passes into the blood largely unchanged and has a diuretic effect, encouraging the urge to urinate. As it passes through the kidneys, it exercises an antiseptic effect by clearing away harmful organisms. Its astringent properties may help reduce irritation and may also encourage deposits to pass out of the kidneys.
5. Reduces Uric Acid Buildup
Uric acid poses a health danger to the kidneys, bladder, and joints throughout the body by increasing the risk for stone formation. Uric acid build up in the joints can also cause arthritic conditions. The anti-lithic properties of uva ursi keep the kidneys and bladder free from crystallization and have made it useful in some approaches to arthritis.
6. It’s Safe
Some sources suggest too much uva ursi may be dangerous to the liver. Of course, the same could be said for all food, healthy or otherwise. While one chemical known for liver toxicity is present, researchers have evaluated uva ursi at recommended dosages and found it to be safe.  If you’re interested in taking uva ursi and have certain liver conditions, it may be wise to discuss your options with your doctor.
One Final Thought
For centuries, uva ursi has been an integral part of traditional folk healing. It continues to provide an excellent non-pharmaceutical approach to bladder, kidney, and urinary tract health. Not only that, it has also been known to amplify the effects of conventional approaches to healing. Check with your doctor or healthcare practitioner prior to taking uva ursi to ensure it doesn’t conflict with current medications.
- Matsuda H1, Tanaka T, Kubo M. Pharmacological studies on leaf of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng. III. Combined effect of arbutin and indomethacin on immuno-inflammation. Yakugaku Zasshi. 1991 Apr-May;111(4-5):253-8.
- Head KA. Natural approaches to prevention and treatment of infections of the lower urinary tract. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Sep;13(3):227-44.
- de Arriba SG1, Naser B, Nolte KU. Risk assessment of free hydroquinone derived from Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi folium herbal preparations. Int J Toxicol. 2013 Nov-Dec;32(6):442-53. doi: 10.1177/1091581813507721.